For those in Denial – Once More

Minister of Energy Tweets
Minister of Energy Tweets

Yesterday, after a long day of repeated Electricity blackouts in our supposedly prestigious neighborhood of Hamra, I sat down checking twitter for the latest crap happening in Lebanon mainly. Besides the usual roads blocked and tires burnt and electricity blackouts, there was this UNusual tweet from our Minister of Energy.

Now I’ve long known that many many Lebanese people live in denial. For me, I don’t like it but I can’t blame them. After all, denial is simply a coping mechanism, and some people don’t have a choice but to live in denial.

But when a minister in the government tweets a statement like the one above, it made me directly pity him. Not because he thinks Lebanon is not the worst country. I agree, it’s not. But to say “any country” is worse than Lebanon is just plain arrogance. I wanted to say many things to Mr. Bassil when I replied to that tweet. But I know he probably has more important things than me to think of. He’s busy getting us ships with electricity on their board to light our houses. Or maybe he went offline because the electric current at his home went off. Maybe he was late coz he got stuck in one of those horrible traffics caused by the burning tire gangs here and there and everywhere. I wanted to tell him that I have lived in the US and it was better than Lebanon. And I lived in Qatar and -surprise- it was better than Lebanon. I have visited many many countries, and -WTF- they were ALL better than Lebanon. Even Tanzania was better. It had fresh air.

Today, our electricity here in Hamra has gone off 4 times already. The roads are blocked in more than one district of the country. People are divided about a conflict in Syria and blind of our problems inside Lebanon because each of their leaders has a ministry to suck off its goody goodies. There is no tourism. The people hate each other and hate their jobs -if they have one. The level of stress among citizens is very high -if only because of the traffic. But, hey, if you want to leave all this beauty and go, no problem. You will discover, sooner or later, that Lebanon was better.



Lebanese Oil & Elecco

So apparently, “Lebanon floats on oil.” Whaaaa?

My mom said Lebanon floats on oil. And the first thing that came to my mind is; Great! This is the last thing we needed. Like we don’t have enough things for politicians to fight about. But, “No,” she said, “It is actually bringing the politicians together”. Because, legend has it that Israel -THE enemy- has set up a pipe (I am almost confident it is an L-shaped huge straw) and is sucking the petroleum. So the Lebanese politicians have to man up and unite, because if they don’t do it in time [like in a million years?] Israel will have sucked ALL the oil before they take action.

Yesterday, the electricity (codename Elecco) went off suddenly for an hour in the evening. It was a great window for us to experience Roman customs, so we had dinner. While Elecco was off, I yelled out to my grandfather to ask him what I thought will be a funny question. I said, “Jiddo! Do you think that when Hamood and Mohyiddine (my 2-year-old nephews) grow up, Elecco will be on 24 hours a day?” Jiddo tilted his head up, “No.” No, he said. I only wanted to make him smile, I swear. But his reply = I sad.

I never wanted to have children in this country so I’m not really worried about them. I still feel bad that future kids won’t have electricity when they grow up. BUT, for a total diversion and on another happy note, let’s think out loud:

When Elecco goes out, all electric and many electronic devices become only worth the matter they’re made of. People are left either with each other or with themselves. That in itself is a great luxury. Family members get to see each other, your eyes relax a little bit, you can catch up on your reading, organize your desk or closet, or take a nap. So don’t BITCH ABOUT ELECTRICITY GOING OFF you never-grateful-insects. Who are we to protest? Oh and, honestly, tell me this: How many times a day do you feel as happy as when Elecco comes back? This is our daily happy moment from our government. Thank you our government, for in our sadness and misery, no one else remembers us on a daily basis but you. You make us smile and yell happily day in day out, “Ijit l Kahraabaaa w ijit l kahraaba!” (Elecco is back! Elecco is Back!)

I resist the temptation to write sometimes because…

I resist the temptation to write sometimes because I worry I would border on politics. And the truth is I don’t really give a big damn about politics. Nor a small damn, as a matter of fact. Heck, I don’t give a damn at all. But, see, in Lebanon this is already too much politics.

The country celebrated Independence Day yesterday. It was cool. You get to hear lots of BS really. Not that it is rare on usual occasions. It is just cute when suddenly everybody gets proud of the country they mock all year long. I certainly don’t belong to that group of people. I am not proud on any day of year. I prefer to be honest.

Speaking of honesty,,,I saw a clip of the current Miss Lebanon being circulated heavily on the walls of Lebanese friends on facebook. Most of them were criticizing her for speaking “negatively” about her country. I salute this young lady. Somebody ought to tell the truth. And it wasn’t like she announced to the world that we don’t have electricity 24/7 or we have war criminals leading our highly educated people. All she said was that there is so much traffic and noise in the country. I salute this young lady again. Because she still lives in this country, while most of the people who were circulating the video live abroad.

I love the conversations I have with my friend. The other day we had a discussion about the effects of war on society and people collectively. How ethics shift and people’s judgement changes. I told her how it is very difficult to be “normal” in a society like this. If you can’t deal with people driving through red traffic lights, you need to “get over it”. If you can’t push and shove in places where you usually would find queues, you’re a pussy. If you think an M-16 and soldiers with machine guns filling the streets are odd scenes, you better get a life. When things like these become normal for people, they all become abnormal collectively. And when you, the pussy without a life who can’t get over these things, come to give it a second shot in your beloved independent country and point them out, people look at you as if you’re a foreigner: “Where are you from?” To heaven with you. To Lebanon with you.

In today’s conversation I told my friend a simple story that happened in my screenwriting class. A student pitched a futuristic story that takes place in Lebanon in 2047. In the world of her story, people were brainwashed, divided to two camps, and had no opinion of their own. They follow their leaders. In that environment, a man and his wife who’ve maintained their individualism start drifting apart when the woman gets sucked into the “public way of life”. The man decides to win his wife back and on the way to doing so he discovers a way to restore independent thinking to everyone else.
When my student finished her pitch, students started suggesting ways to add conflict to the story. One young lady said, “Maybe one time when the electricity goes off —” and I stopped her, exclaiming: “It’s 2047 for heaven’s sake. Will there still be electricity cuts?” And my beloved students all replied in unison: “Yes, Ms.!”
Tragically funny, I think.

The night is long. Thoughts consume me. Conversations never end. Love waits. Till a new post, have a good night. And good luck!

As I start writing this the time on…

As I start writing this, the time on my Mac reads 10:48 AM
The electricity is supposed to go off at 12:00 sharp. They’re usually never late to take it away. And neither late to bring it back, because they have to be on time with cutting it off on another place right?
Dear Electricity, please don’t go today. The weather is so hot and with Ramadan here, we’re waking up thirsty enough. Please stay. I’ll be real glad if you do. I promise to read the pages of my novel and to sleep as I usually do when you’re gone. I don’t care about the traffic lights. These can stay off so the taxi drivers can breathe for few hours a day. Actually I don’t know why I care and why am I begging you to stay when the people are not staying. Leaving is always easier, innit? Or maybe I should ask God instead of asking you?

Dear God, please keep our electricity on. Oh, the government?